Transportation

Report | USPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

From Deceit to Transformation

Volkswagen (VW) perpetuated a fraud on the American people, deceiving consumers into believing that they were getting the best possible combination of performance and sustainability. But VW’s promises were nothing more than lies that significantly harmed our collective health and the health of our environment. As a result of the settlement that followed this fraud, an Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT) was set up with $2.9 billion dollars to be distributed to states to reduce transportation emissions. In effect, VW’s deceit now represents a historic opportunity to drastically reduce harmful pollution that makes us sick and destroys the planet, while also providing an essential down payment toward the transition to a clean and modern 21st century transportation system. 

Rethink and replace I-35

By | Bay Scoggin
State Director

The Texas Department of Transportation is requesting public comment about their proposed expansion of Interestate 35 through downtown Austin. We don't think the project is a good idea; that's why we highlighted it in our annual Highway Boondoggle report. Here's what we had to say on the record to TxDOT about the plan. 

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

METRO adopts goal for all-electric public transit over the next decade

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) approved a goal on Thursday to transition the urban area’s entire public transit fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2030. This announcement came as part of METRO’s Climate Action Plan, which will start by adding 20 new zero-emission electric buses to their fleet starting in spring of next year. Board Member Chris Hollins will oversee the development and implementation of the new electric bus program.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Houston METRO plans to purchase 20 new electric buses

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) staff announced last week a proposal to transition their transit fleet to zero-emission vehicles. This announcement came as part of METRO’s new electric bus initiative, which will add 10 new zero-emission electric buses and 10 electric cutaway buses to their fleet starting in spring of next year.

Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Buses in America: Lessons from Cities Pioneering Clean Transportation

America’s bus network plays a crucial role in the lives of millions of people, providing transport for those who cannot or do not wish to drive, and carrying up to half of all American children to and from school every day. The majority of America’s buses, however, are still powered by polluting fossil fuels, such as diesel, that pose a serious risk to public health and contribute to global warming.

Battery-powered electric buses can reduce the environmental and health threats posed by diesel buses, while also providing a reliable and cost-effective option for cities and school districts. Advances in electric bus technology and a rapid decline in battery costs over recent years have made electric buses an increasingly viable option for many transit agencies and school districts.

However, electric buses are still an emerging technology. Transit agencies and school districts considering electric buses need to know what to expect — and, more importantly, how to get the greatest benefit from their investment.

The experiences of six early adopters of electric buses illustrate the challenges that agencies have faced, as well as the benefits many have received, from their electric bus pilots. To speed up the rollout of electric buses and ensure that cities see the benefits of these vehicles, state and city officials should commit to a transition to electric buses on a specific timeline and create favorable utility rate structures for transit agencies that include reduced off-peak energy rates and limited demand charges.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Texas has most ‘Highway Boondoggles’ of any state in the nation: report

Texas has been singled out as the state with the highest number of egregious highway boondoggle projects in a new report by TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. Despite boasting one of the most extensive highway systems of any state in the country and huge budget shortfalls caused by COVID-19, Texas is planning to spend nearly $3 billion to expand Loop 1604 in San Antonio and build the Southeast Connector in Fort Worth.
These two new boondoggle projects join a list of two other already active boondoggles for a total of eight in the last decade--three more than any other state.
“Texas really needs to get its act together,” said Bay Scoggin, director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group. “TxDoT is already billions of dollars in debt, with billions more on the way, and they still insist on throwing good money after bad, investing more in proven failures. These projects lead to more pollution, more gridlock and more budget shortfalls."

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New report: COVID-19 pandemic worsens existing consumer problems with car buying

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding vehicle loans and leases have increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The analysis suggests that consumers in Texas and across the United States are facing abusive and deceptive practices from the automobile lending industry.  

“Personal car ownership was once a symbol of freedom in the United States. Now, for too many Americans, owning a vehicle isn’t a choice, but an expensive necessity,” said Bay Scoggin, Director of TexPIRG Education Fund. “That’s why making it easier to get around without a car, including by building more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure and improving the cost and availability of public transit, is an important step to help Americans reduce their exposure to auto debt.”

From mask mandates to capacity limits, the largest public transit systems and ride share companies have new procedures

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